The tax bill proposed by Republican leaders yesterday scraps a benefit that many teachers have come to rely on: the $250 “educator expense deduction,” which can be used to recoup the cost of classroom materials.
K-12 teachers who spend money out-of-pocket on books, supplies, professional development courses, and computer equipment and software for their classrooms can claim the deduction each year, according to the IRS. Health and physical education teachers can also use it for athletic supplies. Counselors, principals, and aides who incurred such expenses can claim the deduction as well. In 2015, Congress extended the benefit indefinitely.
Teachers spend about $530 of their own money on classroom items, according to a 2016 nationally representative survey from Scholastic. In high-poverty schools, they spend about 40 percent more—an average of $672.
An Oklahoma teacher gained attention this summer by panhandling to raise money for her classroom. Photos of her begging on a highway overpass spread across social media and ultimately helped her raise $25,000 in donations.
The teachers’ unions are railing against the proposed bill for a number of reasons, including that it axes this deduction.
“As educators spend more and more of their own funds each year to buy basic essentials, Republican leaders chose to ignore the sacrifice made by those who work in our nation’s public schools to make sure students have adequate books, pencils, paper, and art supplies,” said Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association in a statement.
Folks on Twitter are having some, well, *feelings* about the move as well.
Why do this other than to basically just be mean? I mean, really? https://t.co/95uM5Kq2Os
— Tracy Novick (@TracyNovick) November 2, 2017
This is ok because I’m already swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in all the $$ I make that I can turn around and spend on books and supplies. https://t.co/I5vujrOQbR
— Mr. Mustin (@mr_mustin) November 2, 2017
things I have purchased with this money: pencils. and more pencils. and even more pencils. AND OMG WHERE DO THEY KEEP GOING?? https://t.co/dwsu7c5gL8
— Mandy McLaren (@mandy_mclaren) November 2, 2017
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.